By Jake Hall
published in Family Matters eNewsletter, June 1, 2017
This Sunday, our season of spiritual discernment, Vision 20/20, will reach a mile marker. Pentecost Sunday marks the birth of the church. Pentecost, a Jewish feast, was celebrated 50 days after Passover, and pilgrims had come to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate. The apostles were gathered together in a house when a wind came from heaven and filled the place. They saw tongues that looked like fire, that separated and came down on each of them. Immediately the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, who gave them a word and caused them to speak. It was there that the community of gifted and empowered followers of Jesus came to be. On this Pentecost Sunday, we will note and name the ways that we see the Spirit at work in our congregation offering definition and direction to our life as a church as we continue to craft our implementation plans.
Since that day the church has experienced many seasons of Pentecost, as the spirit continues to gather and empower people to do the work of God. During this season of our church’s life, we have taken the time to listen to the Spirit and to expect an answer. It reminds me of the practice of lectio divina, a way of praying the biblical text that draws the participant into the meaning of the text. During this season, we have been drawn into the reading of our inner life as a congregation.
The practice of lectio divina has led many pilgrims to discover meaning and discern purpose in life. Learners led by the practice of the divine reading move through four movements: lectio, meditatio, oratio, and çontemplatio. This repetitive cycle of reading the text requires first a pre-reflective stance: the text is first simply read, words are spoken and experienced. Proceeding from the primary experience of reading comes meditatio, a reflection upon the spoken words. Only after experience and reflection does the prayerful offer words shaped by meditation in oratio. Finally the cycle ends with the contemplatio, as the prayer asks, “What would God have me do and who would God have me be?”
During this season of discernment in our congregation’s life, we have been interpreting the living document of the congregation at Highland Hills. Our Vision 20/20 team has engaged in a form of lectio congregatio, a reading of the congregation. Through a thorough process of listening to the congregation, seeking to interpret its life, offering confession, and witness, we now seek to contemplate what God would have us do and who God would have us be based on our experiences.
What follows reflects the commitments and convictions of our membership as well as the collective calling of the Church to be the presence of Christ and live under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Faithful congregations worship God, make disciples, serve others, practice stewardship, offer care, experience fellowship, and extend hospitality.
These vision statements form our understanding of how we are called to love God and our neighbors with our heads, our hearts, and our hands. Consider how these adjectives call us into a particular way of following Jesus in our worship, faith development, hospitality, missions, community and stewardship? Let’s continue to make our dreams a reality by the power of the Spirit together as we celebrate the gift of Christian community.
Download the Vision 2020 Document by clicking here.